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Trump issues emergency declaration for Harvey in Louisiana

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – President Donald Trump on Monday issued a federal emergency declaration for Louisiana as heavy rains from Harvey ratcheted up fears of destructive flooding.

Tornado and flash flood watches covered parts of southwest Louisiana as Harvey dropped torrential rains on that part of the state.

Trump’s emergency declaration initially covers five parishes in southwest Louisiana: Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis and Vermillion. More areas can be added later.

A White House statement says the action authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts. The declaration also authorizes the federal government to cover 75 percent of costs of certain emergency protective measures.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards requested the declaration in a letter to the White House on Sunday.

“Significant lifesaving efforts such as search and rescue, transportation to shelters, logistical support, and shelter operations will be particularly needed in parts of southwest Louisiana and can be supported by the federal government with an emergency declaration,” the governor wrote .

The efforts will be especially needed in southwest Louisiana, where 10 inches to 20 inches of rain could fall, the governor added.

“We know that the predicted rainfall from Hurricane Harvey will produce dangerous flooding across our state, including some of the same areas affected by the 2016 floods,” Edwards wrote.

Harvey, the most fearsome hurricane to hit the U.S. in more than a decade, came ashore late Friday about 30 miles northeast of Corpus Christi, Texas, as a Category 4 storm. The slow-moving storm has caused catastrophic flooding in Texas.

As dawn broke Monday in Louisiana, The National Weather Service radar for the Lake Charles area was lit up in orange and red where heavy rains from one of Harvey’s outer bands streamed from the Gulf of Mexico onto the Louisiana coast.

“With the conveyer belt of moisture continuing northward, additional area rainfall amounts of 10 to 15 inches is expected across southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana, with 5 to 10 inches expected across Central and South Central Louisiana through Thursday afternoon,” forecasters said in a Monday morning update.

Tornadoes also could threaten southwest Louisiana, which was under a tornado watch Monday. Tornadoes could threaten the region through Monday evening, according to the weather service’s Storm Prediction Center.

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